Whom to hate

The Baltimore Sun

In the world of psychotherapy, there is a concept that the football fans of Baltimore need to wrap their arms around this week.

It is called "transference," and it is the subconscious redirection of deep-seated feelings from the original object of resentment to a new one.

Obviously, we're talking about the Indianapolis Colts here, because they arrive this weekend to play the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. We have long hated the Colts for deserting Baltimore in the dead of night, and those strong feelings bubble up every time they come back to town.

(Of course, when I say "we," I mean "you," because I was living in Southern California when the Mayflower vans pulled out on that snowy night in 1984, though I do remember thinking it was kind of a crappy thing for Bob Irsay to do. Then I went to the beach.)

Nobody is saying those feelings of resentment aren't legitimate, but I think it's time to transfer them to the NFL team that truly deserves the full measure of our disdain. That would be the New England Patriots, who slithered out of Baltimore on Monday night with their undefeated record intact and their arrogance unchecked.

Don't know about you, but that idea became a lot more palatable when Patriots safety Rodney Harrison started mouthing off at Brian Billick during Monday's game.

Yeah, that Rodney Harrison - the one who was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy - stopped over to insult Kyle Boller and the rest of a team that was, at the time, trying to give the Patriots a well-deserved lesson in humility.

Throw in the Spygate controversy earlier this season and the fact that Bill Belichick and Genghis Khan went to the same high school, and you've pretty well hit the transference trifecta.

That should be more than enough to get your anti-Boston blood boiling, but if you need further motivation, just think of all those Red Sox fans piling into Oriole Park nine times every year and treating Camden Yards as if it was Quincy Market. They're all probably front-running Pats fans, too, so they can take all their Super Bowl trophies and their ridiculously handsome quarterback and dump them into Boston Harbor for all we care.

Meanwhile, there is so little to dislike about the present-day Colts that we have to go back more than 23 years to work ourselves into a froth. I totally understand how difficult it is to let go of that - I got 600,000 e-mails explaining it to me before last season's playoff game - but it should be even more difficult to lay the blame on Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning.

Dungy reinforced that notion for me during this week's opponent conference call, when he was asked what he would do if one of his star players lost control of his emotions and did something that had a serious negative impact on his team's chances of winning.

The question obviously was in reference to Ravens linebacker Bart Scott's outburst Monday night, but Dungy was asked to apply it to a hypothetical situation involving his team. Here's what he said: "The first thing you have to point to - I do - is myself. I had a situation like that. We were in San Diego and I didn't make a good decision and it cost us. So you look at yourself and you address that and talk about what it takes to win. And part of what it takes to win is handling those very, very tough emotional situations."

I've heard a lot of coaches say, "It's on me," but Dungy wasn't throwing himself under the bus for dramatic effect or to avoid a touchy question about somebody else's player. He was articulating the personal philosophy that got him labeled as too soft to win early in his head coaching career. Now, he's wearing a Super Bowl ring and that philosophy is in its 20th week on the New York Times best-seller list.

Dungy's memoir, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices and Priorities of a Winning Life, debuted at No. 2 on the hardcover list in late July and quickly moved to No. 1. It's the story of a man who has known the greatest of sorrow - the loss of his son two years ago - and the joy of winning the Super Bowl and kept his faith and humble nature through both.

Think about that before you go out to M&T; Bank Stadium and flip the bird at the Colts team bus Sunday.

It's fair to root hard against them during the game. It's even fair to root harder against them because they are the Colts and they don't live here anymore. The real hate, however, belongs in the history books.

If you can't let that go, at least transfer it to a team that's really worth hating.


Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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